Sunday, November 16, 2008

The end of WoW?

Long time no post. Well, that’s because I’ve begun finishing my PhD. It’s time for the big rewrite, so that’ll probably mean (even) less blogging, and more working (if there’s a difference).

The reason I’m posting right now is that last Thursday, World of Warcraft’s next expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, was released. It marks the end of my ‘fieldwork’. I’ve been playing this game pretty much since the European release back in 2005 and it’s time to put it to rest for a bit. I might continue playing after I finish my PhD somewhere next summer, who knows…

I also wanted to bring up this news item from TwentyFifthNovember.com:

We are proud to declare that all WOTLK PVE raid content has now been cleared. This is both a moment of triumph and a cause for concern. The question in all our minds right now is if we could do this, how soon until the rest of the top guilds in the world clear all the raid content that WOTLK has to offer? Did Blizzard miscalculate in the tuning of these encounters? Or is this Blizzard folding under the weight of a large casual player base that demands to be on equal footing with end-game raiders?



No idea what this is all about? Well, TwentyFifthNovember is World of Warcraft’s top raiding guild (a merger of the famous Nihilum and SK Gaming teams) and they managed to beat all utmost difficult content of the new expansion pack in a mere 65 hours after it was released. That means all the biggest, hardest bosses in the game – Kel’Thuzad, Sartharion and Malygos - defeated in less than 3 days.

To put this into perspective: this used to take weeks, even months of hard training, learning and dedication. These guys manages to do it largely with their old gear from the last expansion pack, and while they hadn’t even reached level 80 yet (the newest top level).

Sure, they are the best skilled players around, but still, this is a strange or at least fascinating situation. Is Blizzard indeed ‘folding under the weight of a large casual player base’, the ultimate fear of all hardcore players.

Maybe. But is this a bad thing?